Women's Lacrosse

Scholarship allows three Native Americans to play at Syracuse

Cody Hendrix | Staff Photographer

Attack Alie Jimerson is one of three SU players who are Native American.

Last Thursday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Syracuse’s first goal came on an assist by junior transfer Alie Jimerson. She scored two of the Orange’s next 19 goals as SU beat Virginia Tech, 20-13.

On the sideline, Erin Francis and Wadata:wi Bomberry cheered on their teammates, specifically Jimerson, whom they both knew since childhood. All three are members of various Native American nations, and none would be at SU if not for the Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship.

Syracuse has two of the top lacrosse programs in the nation — men’s and women’s. The perennial winning attracts some of the nation’s top recruits. For a select few, SU is desirable for another reason. The No. 8 women’s team (15-6, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) awaits its NCAA tournament fate this Sunday, May 7 at 9 p.m. Three of its players are recipients of the Promise Scholarship, which provides opportunities for Native Americans. One is Jimerson, tied for fourth on SU with 37 points. The others are Francis and Bomberry, who have each appeared in four games.

“It is such a great program,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “We encourage people to apply.”

According to the laxpower.com, the NCAA allots each Division I women’s lacrosse program 12 scholarships. The three players on SU’s roster who receive the Promise Scholarship do not count toward the program’s athletic scholarships. Seventy-seven Native American students attended SU the year before the scholarship was announced, according to Syracuse.com. There are now 350 Native American students enrolled, per SU.

The scholarship was introduced on Aug. 15, 2005 by then-Chancellor Nancy Cantor. First-year or transfer students who have lived on one of the six Haudenosaunee nations located in New York and Canada for at least four years are eligible.

The honor covers a student’s tuition, housing, meals and mandatory fees. Syracuse is the only school to have such a scholarship. For the 2017-18 academic year, total cost of attendance $67,152, according to SU’s financial aid website. Jimerson said if not for the Promise Scholarship, she wouldn’t be able to afford SU.

“It means a lot,” Francis said. “As a Native American, you take pride in it to know that they recognize you and they know you are here.”

Francis is a member of the Mohawk nation, Jimerson part of Cayuga. Both said that, within their nations, they were praised for receiving the award. Jimerson recalls little girls going to her and asking what they needed to do to receive the scholarship, just like her. She would tell them to keep their grades up and remember that student comes first in “student-athlete.” She recalls having to keep her grades within the 85 to 90 percent range. Once students arrive on campus, they are required to keep their grade point average above 2.5. Francis, a senior, said that when she graduates, she plans to go back and help her Mohawk community

Francis said her parents introduced her to the scholarship when she was in high school and pushed her to maintain the GPA needed to obtain the scholarship. Francis said there is a select group of students who receive the award. The university does not limit the number of students who can receive it each year.

“Just knowing that it brings you together,” Francis said. “… It builds that trust and builds that tradition and it feels like a family. You can take pride knowing Syracuse will back you.”

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